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APRIL 11

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One of the sharper comedians working today, Chris Rock is a student of comedy, drawing as much inspiration from such unexpected sources as Monty Python and Don Knotts as from Richard Pryor. This might be a surprise for those who only know him from Saturday Night Live, but the smartest move Rock has made was to leave that show. Since then, Rock has continued to make smart comedy and smart moves. For instance, the comedy album is currently attempting a resurgence, most of the product being merely live-performance transcriptions. Rock’s philosophy is “you just wanna give ’em a little bit more. It’s all about getting stuff you can’t get anywhere else.” So his new CD, Roll With the New, is more than just the soundtrack to his HBO special, Bring the Pain. Rock rounded up buddies like Mario Joyner, Dave Chappelle, and a group he “discovered” in Chicago, the Mary Wong comedy troupe, and added fresh material commenting on and supplementing the live cuts. “It’s very much like The Chronic, and I’m Dr. Dre,” Rock explains. In addition to the hysterical “Bad Phone Sex,” Rock and Co. swiftly sum up every Babyface song. Another tedious trend is the comedian’s book. Again, where Bill Maher or Dennis Miller are content to repackage monologues, Rock’s forthcoming opus is modeled on Woody Allen’s brilliant 1975 collection Without Feathers. “It’s gonna be a little weirder than your average comedian’s book,” says Rock. The tentative title is So You Think You Can Read. For those who can read and think, Rock performs with Joyner at 7 & 11 p.m. at the Warner Theater, 513 13th St. NW. $29. (202) 784-4000. (Dave Nuttycombe)